I agree with Toddi that a family dinnertime is a wonderful thing. In theory, at least.
The problem with family dinners, though, has as much to do with what we eat as it does with when we eat. My kids were relatively adventurous eaters when they were very young—somehow we could get such culinary delights as ham and smoked turkey down their gullets. But now it’s tough to get much more than a few carrots, some pasta with cheese, or perhaps the occasional broccoli floret past their lips. If my wife and I sit down with the girls and try to eat anything with even mild spice in it—-say, a salad with goat cheese, or enchiladas with guacamole, or a chicken cutlet--we often hear “yuck” or “gross.” Picky? You bet. The pickiest. So even if I were able to make it home by dinnertime (virtually impossible, since it’s hard to get out of the office before 7 pm most days) I might not be welcome at the dinner table given the fact that my palate can tolerate food that’s a bit more adventurous than plain pasta. Are we doing something wrong here?
The good news is that there’s at least one meal a week we can manage to eat together. Somehow, over the past two years we’ve developed a family tradition called “Sunday night is pizza night.” The girls sit at the counter while I roll out the dough, put on the toppings, and slap the pies in the oven. Then they eat the finished results. Sure, they won’t touch the asparagus or arugula or prosciutto that we put on the pizza for grown-ups. But the simple cheese-and-tomato Margharita that they will eat might actually be the best combo going. And we can sit together and discuss the week just passed, and the week to come. Sure, it’s only one night a week of sitcom-era familial bliss. But it’s a start. Then it’s off to another week as a working parent.